Microsoft says it has a fix for a bug that was keeping Office 2003 users from being able to access some rights-managed files.
The bug, which cropped up on Friday, meant that users of Office 2003 were unable to access files protected using Microsoft's rights management service (RMS) technology.
Microsoft posted a software download known as a "hotfix" on Saturday that it says resolves the issue.
"The issue of the inability to open Office 2003 documents protected with RMS has now been resolved with a hotfix," Microsoft said in a short statement on its Office sustained engineering blog.
I'm still trying to get more details on what caused the bug and will update things if I hear more.
Update, 11:22 a.m. PT: Microsoft said the problem was due to an Office 2003 certificate that expired. "This resulted in Office 2003 customers not being able to open Office 2003 documents protected with the Active Directory Rights Management Service (AD RMS) or Rights Management Services (RMS)," a representative said, adding that Microsoft first learned of the issue on Thursday night and had the fix up by Mid-day Saturday.
Encryption certificates were first introduced with Office 2003. "At that time, Microsoft believed it was important to establish short-term expiration dates for these certificates to allow us to re-evaluate and update (rights management) capabilities based on new, more sophisticated encryption technology," Microsoft said.
"The original intent was to refresh and strengthen the certificate over time to keep up with newer technology," the representative said. "We have not done a thorough post-mortem on this incident since we were very focused on fixing the problem. Looking ahead, we are exploring long-term solutions that will prevent something like this from happening again in the future."